Roughshod over China's rights

Updated: 2014-06-23 07:30

By Shen Dingli(China Daily)

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US' willingness to breach international laws and norms has emboldened Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines to do likewise

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China six and a half decades ago, China has championed the United Nations Charter, as this Charter, in advocating peace, non-aggression and development, has been the source of all international laws in the post-colonial age. As a former victim of imperialism and colonialism, China and all other formerly suppressed countries should enjoy the protection of the UN in a fairer world. And by sticking to the model of UN-based collective security and widest possible multilateralism, the former colonizers are also better off through treating small and weak countries on an equal footing.

But although China advocates advancing national interests and international relations with international norms and laws as a priority, a number of its own legitimate sovereign interests have not yet been properly respected. In fact, among all major countries, China is still the only one whose fundamental national interests in sovereignty and territorial integrity have not been fully attained. For instance, the Chinese mainland has not yet reunified with Taiwan, not has China fully retained the Diaoyu Islands, despite the fact that imperialist Japan, which invaded China and stole these islands around 1894-1895, was defeated in World War II. Additionally, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other neighbors have occupied some of the Chinese islands and islets in the South China Sea since the 1970s, which they have recognized, both explicitly and implicitly, on numerous occasions as belonging to China. Frankly speaking, external factors, especially the involvement of the United States in the region, have complicated the situation even more.

This indicates that modern international norms and laws, such as the principle of non-aggression, have not been fully respected and implemented in reality. Because of the Cold War, the US intervened in the Taiwan issue, deploying armed forces and nuclear weapons on Taiwan before 1979, thus seriously violating the UN Charter. Though Washington has normalized relations with Beijing since 1979, it has continued to sell arms to Taiwan, as well as making and placing its domestic law, the Taiwan Relations Act, above international law. And by "reverting" the Diaoyu Islands to Japan in 1972, the US has disregarded the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation to which it was party. In addition, President Obama claimed in his April 2014 Japan tour that the US-Japan Security Treaty of 1960 is applicable to this issue. With the US breaching international norms and laws, Japan has become more emboldened in challenging China's sovereign interests. Similarly, Vietnam and the Philippines have ventured to provoke Chinese sovereign interests in the South China Sea, by taking advantage of Obama's "rebalancing" strategy.

Even while the US has been flagrantly disregarding international norms and laws in dealing with China's sovereignty, Washington has sought to position itself as a defender of international law. By asking China to withdraw its East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone and to withdraw from engaging in economic activity within the overlapping waters between the Nine Dash Line and the maritime exclusive economic zones of China's neighbors, the US seeks to accord respect to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. And the US argues for the right of freedom of navigation and flight in international waters and airspace, as if China has violated such international norms. At this year's Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, said China was "destabilizing" the East and South China seas by not respecting proper international laws.

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